Wednesday, January 02, 2008

MIGRATIONS. ETHNICITY. The Travelers in Great Britain - Ireland's Gypsies, Roma

Migrations. Ethnicity. Minority issues. Cross all boundaries. Here, Gypsies, or Roma in Ireland.

Irish Traveler Wagon, Tourist Kitsch substitute for the real thing, now seldom seen. Clip-clop for hire.


How an old culture gets trivialized.

Gypsies or Roma in Ireland are known as "Travellers," according to sites that connect them to groups elsewhere in the British Isles. But they are seen as "gypsies" by those who see them here as indigenous, not the product of migrations from India or elsewhere, and connected to their own Irish history, see below.

Before we get there, see how this proud people's tradition diminishes when there is money to be made, by others, off it. Look at the diminution, the commercializing of this country's population of Travelers or gypsies, the gypsies or Roma in other countries. Here are tourists who pay to sit in a wagon while the horse plods to the next town and the next, to the set place for the night. This romanticizing lets us close our eyes to what really has happened - the hounding, the denigration, the maligning, and in the Holocaust, the slaughter.

Nomadic groups have lived in Ireland for centuries, on the margins, hardly visible, see //www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofEnglish/imperial/ireland/travellers. Read "Irish Travellers: Culture and Ethnicity, cited at the website,.Eds. McCann et al. Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies, 1994, 95-109). One of their points is this: that the settling of Travellers (usually by legislation) and forcing them away from their itinerant customs and connections, results in people on state welfare - they are cut off from their trades, the itinerant recycling, repair, recycling, other work they did, among other reasons.

Roots if Irish Gypsies. Their roots may be different from the mainland European Roma, see //www.indymedia.ie/article/68053, in that the Irish groups are probably indigenous rather than stemming from migrations out of India a millennia ago. They could be connected to the time-after-time upheavals, the destruction of monasteries and their populations, the famines leaving people on the roads, the land-use policies pushing people off their traditional farms, warfare, and the like. And the groups in Ireland interact little with each other - divided as Travellers vs. the settled.

Language - the Language of the Irish Traveller also sets them apart from mainland European groups: a form of Gaelic, not with roots apparently from the Indo areas. See ://www.indymedia.ie/article/68053. Still, much in the mists, little demonstrable with much certainty.

Politics/ Migration issues. England's Tories are unhappy with Irish Travelers coming over to England where there may be more loopholes for living, and setting up in England with "illegal pitches" or camping sites. But the BBC points out that there are too few "legal" pitch sites. Where are the people to go? See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4365287.stm. There is a Gypsy and Traveller Law Reform Coalition, with an Andrew Ryder coordinating, trying to help, at least.

Each country has its own stories to tell - too much for each country's site, so please visit our interest in gypsies at Gypsies, Roma, Romani.

Look at the posts for "Travelers," as these groups do not identify closely with any others from mainland Europe, even after migrating to the US and elsewhere. And treat them with respect, and see there is healthcare and sustenance for all of us, whatever our roots.

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